Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ARTSPEAK! Portraits poem "Warning"

Hello and Happy National Poetry Month! Here it is, day 5 of ARTSPEAK!: Portraits, my National Poetry Month poem-a-day project, during which I am looking, listening with my spirit ear, and asking these subject to share with me their secrets.

But first: be sure to check out the Diane's line of our 2017 Progressive Poem over at
Here are the ARTSPEAK! Portraits poems so far:

4. "I am" after The White Cloud, Head Chief of the Iowas by George Catlin
3. "What If?" after Portrait of Camille Roulin by Vincent van Gogh
2. "The Lady Confesses" after Portrait of a Lady with Mask and Cherries by Benjamin Wilson
1. "Mona Lisa in Love" after Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Today I have an animal for you -- a bull by Korean artist Lee Jung Seob.

It's not my first animal portrait to write about... back in 2015 I wrote about Renoir's Head of a Dog. Including an animal from time to time is one way to keep this project interesting -- for me.  As those of you who write daily know, we can lose our enthusiasm from time to time! 

Here's what this bull would like you to know:


My bellow
does not mean hello,

I am not at all
pleased to meet you.

I'd rather you stay

of my barbed wire

Remember, for me,
the sky is always red.

The sun blinks
danger danger danger –

so don't touch my cows
or my calves.

Please, just leave me
in peace

so I can breathe
the clover-sweet air.

- Irene Latham

Readers, I don't have a lot of experience with cows, but I do have the internet... and my mother's stories! She raised both dairy and beef cattle, and was very involved in showing them for 4-H. I've heard many tales of her adventures! The biggest message I got was, don't mess with a bull. They are unpredictable and dangerous. 

When I was writing this poem I was also thinking about something I heard recently about people with Asperger's. This young adult said that being an Aspie was like that feeling of being mugged - the anxiety and terror - 24 hours a day. I was thinking perhaps this bull feels that way, too. Everything is a threat. "The world is too much with us...."


  1. Yesterday was a tough writing day for me. Spent a LOT of it encouraging young writers, running around to mommy duties and then pressured to produce for the day. I have a portrait I want to write about and your daily poems are inspiration. Congrats for four winners in four days.

  2. Reference to that sky is brilliant to me, makes me wonder if it's true? This painting feels like it is. Then you show the other side, "so I can breathe
    the clover-sweet air." Could there be a bit of Ferdinand inside him, too? Lots of layers in this to me, Irene. Nice to see and read!

  3. I agree with Linda, loved that lighter tone at the end. My kids loved to see Herman, the bull at Grandpa's farm, but only from the comfort of Grandpa's pickup.

  4. The clover-sweet air made me think of Ferdinand too. Glad this fiery bull may have a soft side. :)

  5. I like the boldness of the voice, and then the ending twists offering a different p.o.v. Strong poem and image.

  6. We are grateful for your dedication about this helpful post. thanks for explain this post with taking your important time.


Your thoughts?